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Cool jobs


Right now, during the pandemic, some of these opportunities will seem out of reach; like pure wish fulfillment that we,ll ever get back to thinking about the fun opportunities that can come in medicine—but we will. Maybe you want to work on an extremely remote South Atlantic island or in the wilds of Australia. Perhaps you want to combine medicine with your passion for, let’s say, kickboxing or car racing. Or maybe your dream is to do a tour of duty in parts of the world that need you the most. The Medical Post spoke to physicians doing this work and found out what it is like to have one of these jobs.

Médecins Sans Frontières

Dr. Layli Sanaee, emergency physician

Where have you worked for MSF and for how long?

Dr. Layli Sanaee (left): “What I found the most difficult was leaving.” Dr. Layli Sanaee (left): “What I found the most difficult was leaving.”

I returned from southern Chad (in Central Africa) recently, where I had been for five months for two separate projects in two different rural towns.

What made you decide to do this work?

Here in Toronto, I am fortunate to work in a department where my colleagues and our leadership place great value on supporting healthcare in low-resource settings. Those of us who are able and interested can go on global health leave, and our colleagues generously cover the workload until we return. This support helped me decide to do this work. In fact, I dont see my work with MSF as separate from my work in Toronto; but rather an extension of it, as I can contribute to my local community and to the global community, where there is a greater need.

Can you be more specific about where you worked? Was it a clinic? A war-torn area?

The first place I worked was an emergency measles vaccination clinic, during which MSF also supported the district hospital and surrounding community health centres, by providing treatment for pediatric patients with measles, malaria and malnutrition. We also helped open the hospital’s first blood bank. My role was working at the district hospital, alongside doctors from Chad and nurses to care for very ill children. Due to climate change, the rainy season lasted longer this year, which led to many more cases of malaria, increased food insecurity, and made access to healthcare even more difficult.

My second placement was at a district hospital, where MSF has been supporting the ministry of health for 10 years in child health and, more recently, maternal health. At the hospital, MSF provides support in the pediatric department, neonatology unit, labour and delivery, pharmacy and the operating room. In that community, MSF supports 26 community health centres and works closely with midwives, traditional birth attendants and community health workers. I worked primarily in the pediatric emergency room and intensive care unit.

Was it dangerous?

There were minimal security concerns where I worked. The greatest danger was snakes!

What did you most like about it?

Aside from the clinical work and interactions with my patients and their families, what I liked most were the meaningful conversations and friendships with my team members, in particular with my colleagues from Chad. We exchanged several aspects of our culture. It quickly became clear that we actually had many more similarities than differences!

Do you have a favourite memory?

It was the end of a challenging day. In the morning we had run out of nasal prongs, and were unable to administer oxygen to all the patients who required it. In the afternoon we ran out of lancets and could not diagnose hypoglycemia accurately. Amidst these challenges, Emmanuel (not his real name), an eight-month-old with significant cardiorespiratory compromise due to severe acute anemia from malaria, was brought to our hospital by his mother. Emmanuels blood type was O negative, and his mother was O positive. His father was several hours away trying to find a way to get to the hospital. The hospitals blood bank had no Rh negative blood. Several parents and visitors at the hospital offered to donate; however, none of them were a match.

My shift had ended and I was walking slowly from the hospital towards the base, thinking of Emmanuel. I ran into our medical team leader who told me that the next day we would receive a shipment of nasal prongs and lancets. A few moments later I ran into one of the local nurses, and asked why he was returning to the hospital on his day off. He said he had heard there was a need for O negative blood and he was on his way to donate. Words cannot describe the joy and gratitude that we all felt as Emmanuel received the life-saving transfusion and was able to go home a few days later.

What was the biggest challenge?

As with any meaningful work, there are many challenges. What I found the most difficult was leaving. The pace of work and the bonds you form with your team and community members are such that you quickly feel like a part of your new community. It feels like you are leaving home and your family.

What qualities should someone have to do this kind of work?

I think this type of work demands flexibility, humility and a willingness to collaborate. One must be open to working under different conditions, to operate with a posture of learning at all times, and to work closely with others.

Who should not take on this role?

I think physicians who are a good fit for humanitarian work tend to be the ones who choose it.

Will you do this again?

Absolutely, and am in fact already starting to plan my next mission.

Motorsport doctor

Dr. Peter Zhang, family physician

What’s this role all about?

The Ontario Race Physicians Medical and Safety Team is a group of physicians based at the Canadian Tire Motorsports Park (CTMP) in Bowmanville, Ont. The group provides medical care for a variety of motorsports races. Our focus is providing care for competitors and their crew members, but we do occasionally see spectators who are critically ill as well. Most races are based at CTMP, including larger series such as the Pirelli World Challenge, IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, NASCAR Pinty & Trucks series, Canadian Superbike Championship. Our staff also cover some major races at other locations such as the Toronto Indy and Montreal Formula 1.

What do you do if there is a crash?

We work in an interdisciplinary team with physicians from a variety of specialties as well as nurses, paramedics, firefighters and psychologists.

When accidents happen on track, our on-track medical team will get onsite to assess the competitor. Depending on their clinical status, they might be transferred to our medical centre for further assessment and management, and possibly to a tertiary care centre after. As a resident physician, I help manage the patients received in the main medical centre. I also ride out in the Safety-One vehicle as an on-track physician, and respond onsite to more severe crashes that happen during the races.

Is this full- or part-time? Paid or volunteer?

This is an ongoing part-time role. The races usually take place on weekends. There are testing days for competitors before the weekends as well for them to fine tune their car. Some of us stay for the full weekend, while others only come for a single day. It is a voluntary role, but you do get free admission to watch the races at a closer distance than the general public. It is certainly a role tailored toward race fans and car/bike enthusiasts.

Does it require special training?

You do have to complete safety training, which we provide. It’s two fun days where you learn about different aspects of being a safety team member on-track, including how to put out a fire. Otherwise, comfort with acute care is certainly beneficial.

What do you most like about it, medically?

Medically speaking, I enjoy the acuity and challenge inherent in this position. Thanks to modern designs, most crashes leave the competitors unharmed. However, major trauma still happens, and it becomes a challenge sometimes to stabilize these patients with limited resources. To further complicate things, sometimes these patients are too unstable to even be transferred to our medical centre and thus on-track medical intervention is needed. The accidents can also involve multiple competitors and suddenly the quiet medical centre is packed with trauma patients.

What is your biggest takeaway from these experiences?

A major takeaway for me is learning to stay calm inside my mind no matter how chaotic the situation is and how nervous I might appear. It also helps me to think on my feet when I encounter unexpected challenges managing these types of patients.

What is the biggest challenge?

Limited resources. We are unable to obtain POC lab values and we are certainly not stocked to the level of a community emergency department. Clinical judgement is extra important here and quick thinking is often required.

The racetrack is also inherently a high-risk place, as crew members are often working with burning hot car parts or heavy equipment. Even a loose car part can become deadly if it flies off a moving car. And this is just from the racing. There are also plenty of intoxicated spectators out there who had a little too much of their substance of choice and/or did something they will regret.

What qualities should someone have to do this role?

A passion for motorsports and interest in acute care. Great team player. Ability to think on your feet. A healthy amount of courage and decisiveness. Humility to reflect and learn from peers and colleagues.

Who should not take on this role?

If you are not interested in cars/bikes and you have no interest in motorsport races, this job can be quite boring given some days can be long and have very few to no acute patients.

Canadian Armed Forces, civil aviation medicine

Dr. Tyler Brooks, flight surgeon and aerospace physician

Can you tell us about your career in the armed forces so far?

I recently transitioned to the reserve force (i.e., part-time military work) after 26.5 years in the regular force (i.e., full-time military). In the regular force, I started my career as a helicopter pilot and was later selected for medical school. I worked as a flight surgeon, aircraft accident investigator, and senior staff officer. As a flight surgeon, I was selected for advanced aerospace medicine training, and attended King’s College in London, U.K. to complete a diploma in aviation medicine. I was also the first Canadian physician to be granted a diploma in aerospace medicine by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

What does a flight surgeon do? And an accident investigator?

I worked in clinical medicine, caring for military aircrew. As a former pilot, this brought me back to my flying roots, and that was uniquely rewarding.

As an aircraft accident investigator, I attended military accident scenes and contributed to accident analyses and reports. Contributing to aviation safety in this manner was particularly meaningful.

I also contributed to the development of some of the Canadian Armed Forces’ world-leading aeromedical policies, including: cannabis policy, crash scene hazard management, and fatigue risk management. I travelled extensively to instruct other military flight surgeons and lecture at international aerospace medicine scientific meetings and conferences.

Do you have a favourite memory?

I had the opportunity to travel to Lviv, Ukraine, to instruct members of the Ukrainian Air Force on crash scene hazard management during aircraft accident investigation. Interacting with members of the Ukrainian Air Force and gaining exposure to their culture while working through interpreters was tremendously educational and a career highlight.

What is your current role?

I currently work full-time in aerospace medicine in the federal public service as the senior consultant, policy and standards, with the civil aviation medicine branch of Transport Canada, which is responsible for the aeromedical certification of all Canadian pilots, flight engineers and air traffic controllers.

I am responsible for policy development related to civilian aeromedical certification. My latest contributions include: Transport Canada cannabis policy and certification of pilots with insulin-treated diabetes mellitus. Aerospace medicine can be part of a broader practice, or can be a career stream on its own. It is generally considered a subset of occupational medicine.

How can physicians become involved in aerospace medicine?

They can become involved in aerospace medicine through the military (full- or part-time enrolment) or through civilian practice (e.g., as a Transport Canada civil aviation medicine examiner). Some airlines have staff positions for aerospace medicine physicians. Family physicians and specialists can find pathways into aerospace medicine.

What is the biggest challenge in this kind of work?

The biggest challenge in aerospace medicine is assessing the risk of medical conditions and treatments as it pertains to the likelihood of sudden or subtle incapacitation in the aerospace environment. Medical information and studies can be challenging to extrapolate or apply to the aviation context, which has a unique population (generally very healthy) and environmental stressors.

What’s the best part of the job?

Working with aviators who are extremely invested in their health and well-being; working in an intellectually challenging subspecialized area of medicine with unique considerations related to flight; a strong sense of collegiality in the global flying and aerospace medicine community due to international nature of aviation; talking and thinking about aircraft, space, and emerging technologies related to flying.

Practising in rural Australia

Dr. Sarah Giles takes time off to dive the Great Barrier Reef. Dr. Sarah Giles takes time off to dive the Great Barrier Reef.

Dr. Sarah Giles, family/ER physician

Can you tell us about working in Australia? How did it come about?

I was working in the Canadian far north, it was -52 degrees celsius and pitch black in the middle of the afternoon. I received an email from the Western Australian Medical Association following up on something I had signed up for at a conference. The paperwork looked so easy and I thought, “It can’t hurt to fill this out.” Eight months (and hours of paperwork later), I was in Australia.

What made you decide to work in Australia?

I’m a rural and remote locum family/ER doctor by trade and, for most of Canada, that means north. I thought I’d try out the warmer weather for a change.

How long did you do this for?

For each of the three years I worked a 12-week contract, but took additional time off to travel between each of my four- to six-week locums. The first year I was there I had to be in the country for a month before they would give me a billing number.

Were you working at a clinic? Which city/town/area?

I worked all over Western Australia, from the south to the north and the islands off the coast.

What kind of work did you do?

Family, emergency, and hospitalist work.

What was the best part of the job?

Seeing new places, meeting new people. Seeing the similarities and differences between our systems.

Do you have a favourite memory?

One weekend I was truly slammed, dealing with a critically ill child whom we needed to intubate and stabilize (this community was an hour from the nearest airstrip). At one point, I sat down to chart and saw that one of the amazing nurses had brought in a three-course vegetarian meal for me. That community pulled together like no other I had seen. Nurses just heard there was a sick person and came in before we even had a chance to call them. I’m still in touch with most of them today.

What was the biggest challenge?

Many of the practices there are mixed private/public. I couldn’t bring myself to bill people “appropriately for my services so I just left billing up to the secretaries—they knew who could afford to pay and who couldn’t.

I also found there was more blatant sexism and racism than I was used to, and this made life uncomfortable. Plus, Australia doesn’t have Gravol or Benadryl—I never realized how much I used both until I didn’t have it. Finally, everyone somehow thought I had an Irish accent and I constantly had to convince people that I was Canadian.

What qualities should someone have to do this kind of work?

Adaptability, patience, flexibility, proficiency in Australian slang, a working knowledge of venomous snakes and insects, and an interest in tropical medicine.

Who should not take on this role?

People who are phobic of the larger critters (snakes, spiders, sharks, scorpions), those who don’t like the heat, people new to practice in Canada (get one system down cold before you add another), anyone with a serious medical condition (you must buy your own health insurance to work in Australia and it’s not cheap).

The paperwork is definitely a stumbling point. It’s also not particularly well-paid after taxes and health insurance. But it’s a great opportunity to see a new country and get your feet wet in medicine outside of Canada.

Physician for kickboxing and Muay Thai tournaments

Dr. Chris Sun, family doctor

What is this role all about and what qualities should someone have to fill it?

It’s just casual work. I take it as it comes. Usually they ask for a commitment to one night for most competitions, or a weekend for a tournament.

This role is for physicians who have an interest in combat sports, have excellent physical examination skills and are practical decision-makers—also free in the evenings and weekends.

These sports have been going on for centuries without physician attendance and are made safer by physician participation. Is there risk of serious injury? Yes, of course, but many sports put participants at risk of serious injury. There are also benefits to combat sports including improving cardiovascular fitness, psychological fortitude, confidence, self defence and personal growth.

It is important for ringside physicians to understand that competitors are allowed to make informed decisions about their choice of sport and to engage in it with appropriate medical supervision.

Does it require special training?

I wasnt formally trained. Most ringside medicine is not very evidence-based and there is a wide range of different practices. Prefight examinations are standardized, depending on the organization, but much of the ringside clinical care is based on a physicians comfort level with concussion and MSK injuries.

Does it pay well, is it volunteer?

It pays whatever you can negotiate. Volunteering is always appreciated but MDs should keep in mind that promoters and clubs are benefiting financially from these events. So, I dont understand why physicians should not be compensated.

What do you like most about it?

It is exciting to see the level of athleticism in the competitors. It paid very well for me. Most organizations are respectful of MD decisions and receptive to ideas to improve safety.

What was the biggest challenge?

Length of the tournaments can be challenging. Sometimes you have a two-day tournament with 100 or more fighters. Doing intake physicals on 100 people over the course of several hours kind of kills the buzz. Also, inevitably there are competitors who cant get their ducks in a row—paperwork missing, fuzzy medical history. The admin side, as in most jobs, is not something I enjoyed.

Sometimes it can be hard to see the match from where youre seated as well, which makes it hard to evaluate injuries during a round. Facial lacerations can be tricky to assess when theyre facing away from you. Athletes may also conceal injuries from you if they think they may be disqualified. You have to do your best to rely on your objective evaluation as much as possible and not have regrets about erring on the side of safety.

Who should not take on this role?

MDs who have qualms about participants incurring head trauma, or who have reservations about being yelled at by an audience member. Sometimes people don’t agree with your decision to terminate a fight. So far I havent needed to solicit crowd-sourced amateur medical opinions, but sometimes they are offered, loudly.

Remote GP, St Helena, South Atlantic Ocean

Dr. Kevin O’Brien hangs out with St Helena’s most famous resident, Jonathan, estimated to be born in 1832 and considered the world’s oldest terrestrial animal. Dr. Kevin O’Brien hangs out with St Helena’s most famous resident, Jonathan, estimated to be born in 1832 and considered the world’s oldest terrestrial animal.

Dr. Kevin O’Brien, general practitioner

Can you tell me about this experience?

I worked on the remote South Atlantic island of St Helena, part of British Overseas Territory, which is essentially in the middle of nowhere. It is best known as the location of Napoleons final exile. It’s approximately 2,000 km west of Angola, 4,000 km east of Brazil, and the nearest inhabited island, Ascension, is a mere 1,300 km away. Until very recently (2016), you could only get to the island via a five-day trip aboard the last remaining Royal Mail Ship in the world from Cape Town, but they now have an airport with weekly flights to South Africa.

It is inhabited by about 4,900 people—a mixture of local “saints” and expats—as well as an 186-year-old giant tortoise named Jonathan. It feels very British, despite the mango and guava trees and the tropical climate, while some of the place names—“Half Tree Hollow,” “Alarm Forest,” “The Gates of Chaos”—sound like something straight out of Tolkien.

What was your role?

I worked as one of two GPs on the island alongside a surgeon, an anesthesiologist, an obstetrician, an orthopedic surgeon and an internist. I covered general clinics, inpatient and emergency call of about one in 4/5, and psychiatry for the island. I also took the lead on pediatric inpatients/outpatients since we had no pediatrician on island. While the internist was away, I also covered internal medicine for the island.

How long were you there?

There are permanent positions available there and they come up every couple of years. Contracts are for a minimum of one year but preferably two years or more. I worked there for one year from 2016 to 2017. Then my wife became pregnant with our second child, and we wanted to be somewhere more accessible for our families, so we moved to Toronto in February 2017.

What kind of qualifications do you need?

Certification as a family physician is required but you would also be expected to be comfortable working emergency and covering internal medicine. Advanced cardiac life support and advanced trauma life support would be valuable. The support from the other doctors on the island is fantastic though, and the service is covered as a team.

Does it pay well?

The job pays in sterling, which has had its ups and downs because of Brexit. But travel for you and your family to and from the island is included, as is vacation, pension and rent. A cost-of-living allowance is also provided, and cost of living on the island is quite a bit lower than Canada or the U.K., so there is ample opportunity to save while there.

What did you most like about it?

Where to start? It is not an exaggeration to say that I think about St Helena almost every day. It is the most magical and beautiful place I have ever been.

The community is intensely friendly and supportive, and your work there is by and large greatly appreciated. Living on the island is like taking a step back in time. There are no traffic lights. Bank cards were being trialled as I was leaving. Waving to oncoming cars is essentially compulsory. Groceries are still recorded to different accounts in notebooks in some shops, to be settled at the end of the month. Having the right connections can get you fresh lobster, home-collected honey or a variety of tropical fruits. The medicine is challenging, interesting and varied. It was nothing short of a life-changing experience.

What was the greatest takeaway from the experience?

I loved switching off for a year. The cell network had only recently been developed and I had an indestructible Caterpillar brick for a phone that could do nothing beyond text and call. Internet access is obscenely expensive (the only significant expense we had there) so it meant that there were far fewer distractions in life in general. We made do with what the island had to offer in terms of shopping, presents, clothes, etc., and I realized how having a vast choice of goods always on offer is not necessarily a great thing.

Your favourite memory?

Walking to the pier after work to go diving with whale sharks or devil rays was spectacular and the diving far exceeds anything I have experienced in Thailand or on the Great Barrier Reef.

What was the biggest challenge, personally?

Socially, the isolation from our families was difficult. We knew that, prior to the airport becoming fully operational, it could take two to three weeks to get home, depending on the RMS St Helena’s schedule. I was often worried that there would be a medical emergency at home and I wouldnt get back in time. Thankfully, this did not occur. While I was there, fresh fruit and supplies arrived by boat every three weeks and could be scarce in the intervening period but I expect this has improved with the weekly flights.

What was the biggest challenge, medically?

The biggest challenge I faced was managing the first-ever air evacuation from the island. A baby was born prematurely and was in significant respiratory distress. Up until that point, evacuations had only ever occurred by sea and the five-day trip to Capetown would surely have resulted in a negative outcome, as had happened sadly with another baby the previous year. The airport was not yet open for commercial use and only three fixed-wing planes had ever landed there but we managed to charter a plane through Namibia to come collect the infant. We kept him stable while we waited for the weather to be clear enough for the plane to make the complicated trip to the island 48 hours later. He was immediately transferred to a NICU in South Africa on arrival and did really well.

Who should not take on this role?

Somebody who values anonymity. You very much live in the community in which you practise (which I love) and within a day or two of arriving, strangers on the street will greet you with a “Hi Doc.”

Team Broken Earth, surgeon in Haiti

Dr. Supriya Singh, surgeon

Can you tell me about this role?

I helped organize London, Ont.’s Team Broken Earth branch and my role on the surgical and medical outreach team in Haiti is surgical. I was a surgical resident in orthopedics when I started it and am now a spine surgical fellow.

For you, is it ongoing or something you did in the past?

This is ongoing and we do annual surgical missions to Haiti.

How long does each trip last?

The team travels for a week and we do as many surgeries as possible.

Does this role require special training?

Our team is composed of surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists, and those who help with organization and processing of equipment. Each role has specialized training.

Does it pay well or is it volunteer?

It’s a volunteer position.

What did you most like about it?

I enjoy travelling with our team and helping as many patients and families as possible. Making a difference even if just for a handful of people is very rewarding. Their stories impact us and our work there feels quite meaningful.

What was the greatest takeaway from the experience?

I have learned many lessons from this kind of work. My biggest takeaway this year was how difficult it is for patients with spinal cord injuries and spinal pathology in low-middle income countries that have no spine care options.

Your favourite memory?

My favorite memory is of a young boy who had tuberculosis of his spine with collapse and spinal cord compression. He was unable to walk properly, and we treated his spine surgically and his tuberculosis with medical management. One year later he is healthy­­­—walking, running and dancing!

What was the biggest challenge personally?

It’s emotionally challenging being unable to help patients when their pathology is too severe, or not having enough resources, or being unable to operate safely on them. Turning them away is very difficult.

What was the biggest challenge, medically?

Tuberculosis of the spine. It’s a preventable disease and also a treatable disease but untreated it can progress to severe deformity and spinal cord compression, leading to challenging surgical intervention.

What qualities should someone have for this role?

To do this kind of work you must enjoy it. Your heart has to be in the right place. It’s challenging working in resource-poor settings and it’s unpaid, so the reward is in patient interactions as well as working with an incredible team of like-minded individuals.

Northern Manitoba physician

Dr. Stephenson Strobel, emergency physician

How often do you go to Northern Manitoba and for how long at a time?

I have an odd schedule because of other responsibilities (working at Cornell University, shifts in rural Ontario ERs) but I usually go once every three months, except in the summer when I try to spend at least two weeks per month there. I usually go for 10 to 12 days at a time, but many physicians will do five days on and then fly home to Winnipeg for the weekend. If you live outside Manitoba, the clinical group will cover travel expenses for a 12-day stint.

How did you come to work there? Was this a particular interest of yours?

It was not something I originally considered when I started medical school at the University of Manitoba. At the end of my first year though, the school organized a rural week where they placed medical students in rural and remote communities. I was placed at a nursing station in a First Nations community of fewer than 3,000 people. The first night there we saw two very sick patients with the supervising physician. Then for every night for the five days we were there, we saw very acute cases. It was exciting and interesting and it seemed like the type of place where a good physician could make a significant impact on patients lives.

Can you describe where you work?

I work mostly at Norway House Hospital, where the family doctors run the show. This includes rotating through the emergency department, the small inpatient unit (about 10 beds), and the clinic. The hospital itself has an X-ray machine and a lab that can do bloodwork, and there is a point of care ultrasound available. In the community, there are always at least two physicians on weekends and often a full complement of four to six physicians on weekdays.

It is remote, about an hour flight north of Winnipeg or an eight-hour drive. It is cold in the winter but during the summer the scenery and weather rivals any cottage community in southern Canada. The hospital itself is right on the lake and there are opportunities to canoe and swim. The staff have barbecues.

Is there a typical patient? What kind of illnesses / injuries do you see most?

There really is no typical patient, but the acuity and complexity of patients in the community is generally higher than in many southern communities. There are a significant number with chronic illnesses like diabetes and hypertension who we follow routinely in the clinic. We also see some very interesting chronic cases because of the population, such as auto-immune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. On the acute side of things, theres a much higher proportion of infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and sepsis. It is also a community that spends a lot of time outdoors, which shows up as traumatic injuries.

What do you like most about this experience?

I love the adventure of the work. My daily commute is in an airplane that lands on a gravel airstrip. I also get to manage extremely interesting cases that in urban areas would only be seen by a specialist. Most importantly, the patients are kind and generous and fun to be around.

Do you have a favourite memory?

I went up just after completing residency so I was very inexperienced. I got called into the ER one evening to find a woman in full-blown labour. She was too far along to send to an obstetrician in Winnipeg so I had to deliver the baby. It was just about the scariest thing Ive ever seen but my reflexes and training kicked in and everything worked out (the mom did most of the work, anyway). Baby was delivered with 10 fingers and 10 toes.

What are the biggest challenges of this role—personally and medically?

The remote nature of the work means that people should expect to be away from their family and friends for periods of time. The doctors who go up to the community are great and there are social activities organized by the staff to keep people busy when they are not working. Medically, the physicians all support each other, however the acuity of the cases means that patients must routinely be evacuated to Winnipeg by plane. This can often mean that physicians have to manage very sick patients for hours at a time in the ER until a plane can be sent or the weather allows for a flight.

What qualities should someone have to do this kind of work?

Physicians should expect the unexpected and be able to react appropriately. I often have to read up on conditions that I have seen in the clinic or the ER in order to provide good care. Physicians should expect to get messy. Basic hands-on skills like being able to cast, suture, deliver babies, insert chest tubes and run codes are important to know.

Who should not take on a role like this?

Physicians need to be able to manage that stress and keep cool under pressure. Some of that you learn on the job and my physician colleagues are extremely supportive, but anyone who wants a practice where they see coughs, colds, and high blood pressure should avoid the north. MP

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